Olmert: Israel Should Support, Not Oppose, PA Statehood Bid
Although most of Israel's political leadership, past and present, oppose the current and previous attempts by the Palestinian Authority to seek UN recognition for a state in areas it controls in Judea and Samaria, at least one former Prime Minister thinks that the PA should be recognized as a state. The Daily Beast web site Thursday reported that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had issued a statement in which he praised the PA's move, and said that Israel should support it.
“The Palestinian request from the United Nations is congruent with the basic concept of the two-state solution,” Olmert wrote in the statement. “Therefore, I see no reason to oppose it. Once the United Nations will lay the foundation for this idea, we in Israel will have to engage in a serious process of negotiations, in order to agree on specific borders based on the 1967 lines, and resolve the other issues. It is time to give a hand to, and encourage, the moderate forces amongst the Palestinians,” in particular the government of Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad. “They need our help,” Olmert wrote. “It's time to give it.”
Olmert, it will be remembered, had agreed in U.S.-sponsored talks to a plan that would cede control of most of the Old City to the PA and put Jewish holy sites under international jurisdiction, surrender land within the 1948 armistice lines in return for retention of small settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria, a limited admission to Israel of Arabs whose parents or grandparents had fled Israel in the 1948 War of Liberation, and “generous compensation” for other descendants of “refugees.”
Olmert stepped down as head of his Kadima party in 2008 because of investigations into involvement in numerous corruption scandals, leaving Tzipi Livni to run against Likud candidate Binyamin Netanyahu. He was said to be considering a run for Prime Minister in the upcoming elections, but polls show that he would perform very poorly if he did run, mostly due to his dovish political positions.